From a Therapist’s Perspective
As the summer winds down, parents are increasing their efforts to get their child ready for the first day of school. Midland Children’s Rehabilitation Center has some helpful advice for parents and students to get off to a good start.
MCRC’s Director of Program Therapy Services, Jami Romero, PT., says this about back packs, “The type of back pack, how it’s loaded and how it’s carried can help a student avoid pain and posture issues later in life. When shopping for a backpack, look for one that’s lightweight, has wide padded shoulder straps, multiple compartments, reflective material and is the correct size and fit for the student. If the back pack is wider or longer than your child’s torso, it’s not a good fit – best to find another.” When asked about best practices carrying a back pack, Jami says, “Using both straps will distribute the weight evenly across the child’s back. Keep the straps short, packs that sag below the waist can cause pain and posture issues. Avoid wearing just one strap, it can lead to muscle spasms, neck/shoulder/back pain, upper-extremity weakness, and postural deformities.”
Leigha Foote, OTR, Director of Occupational Therapy continues about loading backpacks, “Pack heavier books/object towards the center and make sure pointy objects will not rest on the child’s back when worn. A backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the child. If it does, carry a book or two using the arms. Although a rolling backpack seems beneficial, they can cause other stressful situations for a child such as getting it up and down stairs and other logistical problems.”
Getting the right school supplies shouldn’t be the only priority, parents should also prepare their student’s mind for school by jump starting their “summer brains.”
…you want to be asking the “Who, What, When, Where, and Why”…
“Reading aloud to your child or having a child read a book (if they’re old enough) can help prime your child’s brain for school and transition them back into a routine that fosters learning,” MCRC’s Director of Speech Therapy Jennifer Austin, MS, CCC, SLP says. “Especially for younger kiddos, you want to be asking the “Who, What, When, Where, and Why” about what was read because this will help them with their receptive and expressive language.”
If your child struggles with reading or you notice your child getting frustrated and not doing well, he/she may need to be evaluated for dyslexia. Carla Gotcher, Lead Dyslexia Tutor for MCRC’s West Texas Dyslexia Center, says, “Be an encourager and an advocate – this is a frustrating time for your child. Schools offer tutoring and accommodations that will help your student succeed. Request an evaluation in writing to your child’s teacher and principal to find out for fact whether your child deals with dyslexia.”
Being prepared mentally and physically prepared for school is just as important as being properly supplied and can make a huge difference in a child’s education.